Rosewill’s Nebula series of gaming headsets have consistently achieved a balance between price and performance, giving you a real bang for your buck at a competitive price point. Enter their latest model, the GX51. This headset boasts a suspended headband design, detachable microphone, and 7.1 virtual surround sound.

You can currently pick one up for $49.99 on Newegg.

Disclosure: Rosewill is owned and operated by Newegg.com, which also owns GameCrate.

Design and Comfort

When it comes to aesthetics, the GX51 isn’t going to turn any heads. It’s a very basic looking headset, lacking the sleek, slim earcups and flashy RGB lighting found on other headsets, but it more than makes up for it in terms of comfort. I love suspended headband headsets, and the GX51 sits up there with the best of them. For those of you who have never worn a suspended headband before, you don’t adjust the height of the earcups vertically. The entire headset “snaps” to the shape of your head - no muss, no fuss. This “one size fits all” approach ensures that the earcups properly rest on around your ears, instead of potentially pushing them against your head.

The suspended headband design lives or dies depending on the thickness and the amount of padding on the headband and earcups. Rosewill knocked it out of the park in this aspect, with thick memory foam padding all around the earcups. It forms a snug, but not oppressively tight, seal, and I didn’t have any redness or soreness after hours of use. The overall build quality on the GX51 is great – the headband has enough give to it to flex to your head shape, but I never felt like it would snap in half. The headset itself feels very light, and I wore it for hours without feeling any fatigue or pain. My slight critique of the design is that there could have been a bit more padding on the headband itself. As is, it’s just a thin leatherette strip that I noticed pressing against the top of my head after extended use.

Performance and Features

The Nebula GX51 comes with a detachable microphone. The microphone easily bends so you can place it right in front of your mouth. The sound quality on the microphone is pretty good. My voice came through loud and clear, with a surprising amount of bass to it. The microphone also didn’t pick up background noise, like the TV or music playing from a stereo. It’s easily one of the better detachable microphones I’ve seen on a headset, especially in this price range.

The Nebula GX51 also has an inline volume controller on the USB cable. It allows for volume adjustment via a notched wheel, as well as the ability to quickly mute the microphone, enable or disable the virtual 7.1 surround sound, and switch between different EQ profiles. It’s a handy feature, but the controls are a bit confusing. Everything except for the volume wheel is triggered by pressing corresponding areas on the controller’s faceplate. There’s no indication that the faceplate can be pressed, so I could see someone not reading the manual and missing this feature completely.

The EQ profile button designs also aren’t the clearest – the “videogame controller” button doesn’t really look like a controller unless you squint. There’s also the issue with how the headset’s volume is handled. There’s actually two separate volume controls – the notched wheel on the controller and the wheel on the left earcup. I ended up ignoring the controller and just adjusting the volume of the headset with the earcup wheel, which works just fine.

The Nebula GX51 offers both USB and traditional 3.5mm outputs. While the versatility is welcome, do note that you can’t use the inline controller and the virtual 7.1 surround sound without a USB connection. Also, without the USB adapter, the headset cable is far too short, unless you’re literally right next to your computer’s 3.5mm jack. Still, the option is there if you have to have a 3.5mm connection.

Sound quality

The sound quality is where the GX51 really shines. In-game, the soundscape felt perfect for first-person shooters. It’s forward and ferocious, with the extreme high and low ends reduced and the midrange frequencies pumped all the way up. This is great for high-octane shooters, where you really want to feel each gunshot on a visceral level. It’s not as good for more atmospheric role playing games with an emphasis on sweeping orchestral soundtracks, where I wanted a wider, more open soundscape, but it’s still suitable. And while a lot of gaming headsets feel a bit lacking when it comes to listening to music, I found the GX51 could hang with comparably priced headphones.

The midrange frequencies have a good punch to them, and the bass has a nice, subtle depth to it. It’s not so bass-forward that it’s suitable for hip-hop or trance music, where a bone-rattling bass is practically a necessity, but it will get the job done. I listened to some rock, jazz, classical, hip-hop, and country, and found the GX51 to sound good enough that I’d feel comfortable using it as my daily driver.

But as much as I’m praising the sound quality on the GX51, I have to say I’m unimpressed with the 7.1 virtual surround sound. I’m not a big fan of 7.1 virtual surround sound in general – it just can’t replicate the true feeling of seven physical speakers, and it makes audio sound a bit mushy and flat. It’s a feature that I recommend you leave off.

Rosewill did a lot of things right with the Nebula GX51. The suspended headband design feels great, and the sound quality has a ton of warmth and depth to it. While the additional features are a bit underwhelming, this is a comfortable headset with a powerful microphone that sounds great for both music and games. At this price point, what’s not to love?

UPDATE: This article has been modified to correct information about the headset's volume controls.